Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oscars®: Foreign Language And Short Film Entries Due Monday

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday that Monday, October 3rd, is the deadline to submit entries in the Live Action Short Film, Animated Short Film and Foreign Language Film categories in order to be considered for the 84th Academy Awards®.

Complete entries must arrive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by 5 p.m. PT, Monday. In the Foreign Language Film category filmmakers must submit entry forms, one English-language subtitled film print or copy in an approved digital format, and all other required materials by the deadline.  Only one motion picture will be accepted from each country.

Also a Feature Length Motion Picture is now defined as being over forty minutes in length. That minimum definition was originally at least 90 minutes in length, which was lowered to at least 75, and now is down to 40 minutes.

In the short film categories, filmmakers must submit an entry form, one film print or copy in an approved digital format and all other required materials by the deadline. The categories for short films are: Best Animated Short Film, and Best Live Action Short Film. A short film is defined as being  an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.

Upcoming Important Dates: 

Thursday, December 1, 2011 - - Official Screen Credits forms due.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - - Nominations ballots mailed.

Friday, January 13, 2012 - - Nominations polls close 5 p.m. PT.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - - Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT, Samuel Goldwyn Theater
, Beverly Hills, California.

Complete rules are available at Additional information may be obtained by contacting Awards Coordinator Torene Svitil via phone at (310) 247-3000, ext. 1116, by fax at (310) 247-2600, or by e-mail at

The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Soaps AMC and OLTL Will Return but at a Different Address

Agnes Nixon and Susan Lucci
Daytime TV's All My Children closed its doors at ABC-TV yesterday, and One Life to Live will exit the network January 20, 2012. However,  AMC's exit was more like a end-of-season hiatus cliff hanger. Pictured above with Susan Lucci is the creator of AMC, Agnes Nixon.

I thought, how odd. Then, I reasoned there is something going on here more than saying a fond farewell. Could AMC be coming back at another media outlet? It is, indeed! Good news for fans like me!

ABC signed a contract with Prospect Park Productions in Century City, CA, giving them the right to take over the production of the canceled daytime dramas All My Children (AMC), and One Life to Live (OLTL). The episodes will be streaming live on your computer soon. That's correct. They are moving to the Internet.

Brian Kerwin (Charlie) and Erika Slezak (Victoria)

OLTL's executive producer Frank Valentini will continue to executive produce OLTL when it moves online. In addition, Valentini has been named VP Serial Dramas for Prospect Park’s new online network.
So, I did a little research. Prospect Park is a production company located in Century City, CA, helmed by partners Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank. Valentini will work closely with them and their executive team on programming strategies, including the upcoming relaunch of AMC, which will be followed in 2012 by the relaunch of OLTL sometime after it leaves ABC in January.
Not only did Prospect Park snag Valentini but, so far they have signed OLTL's primo star Ericka Slezak (Victoria Banks), Kassie dePaiva (Blair Cramer) and Michael Easton (John McBain). Also, from AMC they have commitments from Cameron Mathison (Ryan Lavery) and Lindsay Hartley (Dr. Cara Castillo Martin).
By the way, Ericka Slezak's father was the late famous and talented actor, Austrian Walter Slezak (May 1902 - April 1983). His first movie role was in the 1922 Austrian film Sodom And Gomorrah, by his friend and the film's director, Michael Curtiz. Both he and Curtiz left Germany and headed to Hollywood before Hitler's Brown Shirts burned the German Parliament Building in 1933.
Slezak also appeared on Broadway, his father Leo was a famous opera tenor in Europe, and Walter won a Tony for his role in Broadway's Fanny in 1954. He was lauded for his role as the German Captain in Alfred Hitchocks' 1944 movie, Life Boat. His last appearance on the stage was in 1970s when he played the non-singing role of Frosch, the jailer, in the San Francisco Opera production of Johann Strauss' operetta Die Fledermaus, a fitting tribute to his late Father. Erika's mother was Dutch. Read about Walter Slezak.

Prospect Park Productions is in negotiations with Susan Lucci (Erica Kane) and others in the AMC and OLTL casts, but no word yet from La Lucci, AMC's premo star, or David Canary (Adam / Stuart).

Yes, in case you don't know, AMC's Dr. David Hayward (actor Vincent Irizarry) resurrected Dixie, Stuart, Zack and a few other dead characters making the good(?) doctor a hero in Pine Valley.

There is no word as to the exact relaunch dates, where the new Internet TV network can be found on the Web, and whether it will be for free or fee.

Meanwhile, if this has not yet happened to your favorite daytime drama airing on TV, one thing you can do to help prevent it is to NOT watch The Chew on ABC, airing in AMC's time slot starting today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Little Gossip - - Hopper, Polanski, Renner

Mia Wasikowksa and Henry Hopper in Restless

Gus Van Sant 

The latest Gus Van Sant movie, Restless was screened at the recent Toronto International Film Festival. A new movie by the Kentucky director Van Sant is always noteworthy. However, it seems the two young adult leads, Mia Wasikowksa and Henry Hopper, both 21, are stealing the thunder.

Wasikowska starred in Alice in Wonderland, The Kid's Are All Right, That Evening Son, and as Jane Eyre in the remake of the same name. All were filmed last year and early this year. She was nominated for a number of awards.

Henry Hopper -- son of late actor Dennis Hopper and his last wife, actress Katherine LaNasa -- makes his screen debut in Restless, if one discounts the low-budget ($100,000) independent movie, Kiss and Tell, 1996, in which he had a very small part under the name of Henry Lee Hopper.

In Restless, Van Sant applies his directorial acumen to the surprising acting chops of both Hopper and the impressive wispy Wasikowska, to shape a story of two young teens fascinated with death. They find themselves drawn to each other because of that fascination, and Van Sant creates ". . . a profoundly moving account of two lost souls whose union becomes a marvelous affirmation of life. Reminiscent, inevitably, of Hal Ashby’s classic Harold and Maude . . . ." That quote courtesy of the Toronto IFF. See bottom of this post for
Restless links.

Roman Planski
Director Roman Polanski's latest, Carnage will open the New York International Film Festival (NYC, September 30th - October 16th). Polanski, a Swiss citizen, will not attend, but he will attend the Zurich FF (September 22nd - October 2nd).

At Zurich, Polanski will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award he was scheduled to receive in 2009, but didn't because he was arrested for having sex with a minor at actor Jack Nikolson's house in the late 1970s and skipped bail shortly afterward. He has been unable to return to the U.S. since 1978. That's why he will not be attending the New York IFF.

He was under house arrest in Switzerland after his 2009 arrest in Zurich. Only recently has he been able to travel freely in that country. Carnage, which stars Jodi Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Watlz and John C. Reilly, will be released in December.
For more about the Zurich Film Festival, click title of this post.

Jeremy Renner

Mike Fleming writes on Nikke Finke's Deadline Hollywood that Jeremy Renner, who received Oscar nominations for his roles in The Hurt Locker (2008) and The Town (2010), will star in and co-produce King of Heists, an adaptation of the J. North Conway nonfiction book about a great bank robbery of nearly $3 million in cash and securities from the Manhattan Savings Institution in 1878, and that was a hefty amount of cash in the late 1800's. You will be hearing more about this one. Renner's MySpace Page.



Monday, September 19, 2011

Toronto Festival Winners - Lebonese, French, Iranian, and a USA Doc

The Toronto International Film Festival is not competitive, which means it has no jury. It gives only two awards, both chosen by the festival attendees. The sought-after award is the Cadillac People's Choice Award.
The Cadillac People's Choice Award for a feature film went to Where Do We go Now? It is listed as a comedy/drama. The movie was written, directed, and also co-stars Nadine Nabaki, who is Lebanese. Her first movie Caramel was well received at the 2007 Toronto IFF.

The original title is French, Et maintenant, on va où? For my Middle Eastern friends, the Arabic title is, Ou Halla La Weyn?
The story line is, "A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village."

The budget for this multi-lingual movie (Arabic, Russian, English) was approximately $6 million. It does not have a U.S. distributor at the moment, but is distributed in Europe by Pathe, and has opened in France and Finland. It is scheduled to open in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria next week, opening in Kuwait and the UAE November 10.
The runners-up for the Cadillac People's Choice Award were:  A Separation, a drama, and Starbuck, a comedy. A Separation is an Iranian movie, filmed in Iran, written, directed and produced by Asghar Farhadi (About Elly, 2009), and the language is Persian.
The budget was $300,000, and it grossed aprox. $5 million in France in July. It won a number of awards at this year's Berlin International Film Festival including the top jury prize, Golden Bear, and a Silver Bear for the acting ensemble.

Starbuck is a Canadian production, filmed entirely in Quebec, and the language is French, directed by Ken Scott, co-written by Scott and Martin Petit. It has nothing to do with the chain of coffee houses.

The title refers to the pseudonym of the main character, David, because he was an avid sperm donor in his youth. Now, at 42, he discovers he is the father of 533 children, 142 of whom have filed a class action lawsuit to determine the identity of their biological father, known only as Starbuck.

The Cadillac People's Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature went to The Island President, directing and cinematography by Jon Shenk, who shared the Independent Spirit Award in 2003 with Megan Milan for the documentary, Lost Boys of Sudan. It is a USA production and the language is English. Look for it on PBS (Independent Lens or P.O.V.).

This is a documentary about Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed, real-life president of the Maldives, a low-lying Pacific island nation, and his fight to save the islands as they face the crisis of being flooded because of Global Warming. The Republic of Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean toward the southwest of India and Sri Lanka.

For more pictures and information about these films, I refer you to Roger Ebert's Suntimes Blog. Please click the title of this post to go there.                           Toronto IFF Web Site

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Win Seats for Oscar Red Carpet, Deadline Sunday

Every year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gives tickets for bleacher seats along the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards.  The registration for the drawing closes at midnight ET, this Sunday, September 18, 2011. 

Enter for a chance to win a pair of seats along the red carpet at the 84th Academy Awards®, which will be held on February 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California. 

All entrants must be 18 years old or older. For compete information and to register, click the title of this post. Good luck!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Venice Film Festival Winners

Venice Festival Scene at Night

Leone d'oro

Aleksander Sokurov, director of Best Film, FAUST

The 68th Venice Film Festival (La Biennale di Venezia), under the direction of Marco Müller, and the longest running international film festival, closed last night. The closing movie, Damsels in Distress (USA, 2011), screened out of competition, and happened to have been written, directed, and produced by an acquaintance of mine, Whit Stillman, whom I met in Barcelona, Spain.

Whit Stillman
Whit, like Woody Allen, writes, casts, directs and produces all his movies through his company Westernly Films. His movie Metropolitan burst on the movie scene in 1990, and garnered critical acclaim. It was followed by Barcelona in 1994, which, of course, is my favorite movie of his.

Damsels stars Adam Brody who played Seth Rogan in the TV series The OC, another of my favorites. His co-star is Greta Gerwig (No strings Attached, 2011). Others in key roles are Megalyn Echikunwoke and Analeigh Tipton. Sony Picture Classics is distributing. Good luck with this one, Whit!

Now, here are the top-five winners of the 68th Venice International Film Festival, decided by the Jury led by U.S. director Darren Aronofsky, and announced September 10, 2011:

Golden Lion (Leone d'oro) for Best Film: Faust by Aleksander (Also, Alexander) Sokurov (Russia). Movie is loosely based on Goethe's classic German story.
Shangjun Cai
Silver Lion (Leone d'Argento) for Best Director: Shangjun Cai for the film Ren Shan Ren Hai (People Mountain People Sea) (China - Hong Kong).
Special Jury Prize: Terraferma directed by Emanuele Crialese (Italy), and that title is not a typo.

Michael Fassbender

Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) for Best Actor: Michael Fassbender (Lt. Hicox in Inglorious Basterds) for his role as Brandon in the movie Shame directed by Steve McQueen (United Kingdom). Basterds is not a typo, it is the actual title of the movie.

Deannie Yip


Coppa Volpi for Best Actress: Deannie Yip for her role as Ah Teo in the film Tao jie (A Simple Life) directed by Ann Hui (China - Hong Kong).

Click title of this post to go to the Venice IFF Official Web site. Full List of Winners.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Telluride Film Festival Wrap

Telluride 2011 Poster
George Clooney
Tilda Swinton
The four-day 2011, 38th Telluride Film Festival (TFF), known as The Show, wrapped Monday, Labor Day. First of all Telluride is a non-competetive festival, meaning there are no grand prize winners. Instead, the sole emphasis is on the films and the film-going experience.

The Festival screened six film revivals selected by Guest Director Caetano Veloso, plus twenty-eight new feature films in its main program, nine Backlot programs, nine classics and restorations, 30 shorts and student films, and hosted nine seminars and conversations between festival guests.

Pierre Étaix
Whew! What a whirlwind that must have been. All that in four days! In addition, the Telluride Film Festival's Silver Medallion awards, given to recognize an artist’s significant contribution to the world of cinema, went to George Clooney, Pierre Étaix, and Tilda Swinton.

I'm fairly certain my readers can identify George Clooney and Tilda Swinton but perhaps not as easily the man in the middle. Pierre Étaix is a French clown, comedian and filmmaker, born in 1928.

Étaix made a series of acclaimed short and feature-length films, which are available again. The TFF festival goers were treated to Frederick Wiseman’s portrait of Paris’s glamorous cabaret of the same name; and Le Grand Amour (Great Love), TFF Tributee Pierre Étaix’s lost masterpiece, never-before-seen in North America. It was screened as a Sneak Preview.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Sneak Previews at Telluride are an unofficial part of the TFF program. They are not revealed in the program. Instead, they are announced at various times during the Festival. This year there were three, Le Grand Amour; Jim Field Smith’s Butter (U.S., 2011) starring Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell, all three of whom were in attendance to present the film; and Crazy Horse (U.S., 2011).

The Special Medallion award, given to a hero of cinema that preserves, honors and presents great movies, went to one of my favorite movie magazine, the British film magazine Sight and Sound.  Editor Nick James accepted the award in-person.

Lots of goodies, including the above poster, are for sale in the Telluride Show Shop.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Look Who is Hosting the 84th Oscar Gala

Eddie Murphy
Actor/comedian Eddie Murphy, widely known for the Saturday Night Live comedy television show and the Beverly Hills Cop's movies, will host the 84th Academy Awards telecast, according to an announcement yesterday by the producers of the awards telecast, Brett Ratner and Don Mischer, at the the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences® in Beverly Hill, California.

The Academy Awards® for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Vine Highland Center, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Murphy earned an Oscar nomination in 2006 for his supporting role as James "Thunder" Early in the movie Dreamgirls. This will be Murphy's first time hosting the Oscars®.

I must admit that the name of Edward Regan "Eddie" Murphy never crossed my mind as a possible host.  A few years back, I would have said, "Oh, no, he is a loose cannon." However, Murphy has, over the years, steadily honed his craft.  Thus, today, he seems like an excellent choice for host.

All told, movies in which he has performed have earned in excess of $7 billion worldwide during their theatrical releases, chief among them Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor and Shrek franchises. His performing career of three decades spans movies, television and the stage.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Coppola, 'The Help' Cast, Deauville Festival & Family History

Coppola Honored
Day two of the Labor Day Weekend, and the Deauville American Film Festival in Deauville, France (2-11 September) opened. It is called the Deauville American Film Festival because it is the only European film festival solely dedicated to showing American films, underscoring America's close ties with France.

The renowned director Francis Ford Coppola is the Guest of Honor at this year’s fest, and he declared this year's 37th annual event open Friday night. Renault, is the Official Partner of the 37th Deauville American Film Festival.

Deauville is located on the coast of Normandy, France. The exclusive coastal resort has been the playground of the rich and famous since it was founded by a cousin of Napoleon III in 1861. That was about 100 years after 1/2 of my French family migrated to the British colony now known as Canada. Their longest stop along the way was in Toronto, then they moved on to Detroit.

By the mid 1700s they were in a little French settlement called Vincenes, which would become Vincenes, Indiana. They were neither rich, nor famous, but they were not poor. I think the other French half may have entered through Louisiana, but there are some gaps. I like following the film festivals in Deauville  and in Toronto, because I relate to those places.
I digressed. The Deauville opened with the most popular American movie at the moment, grossing over $100 million, The Help, with the cast offering some Red Carpet pzazz. Surely, you know all about the movie based on the novel by  Katheryn Stockett by now, so I shall not go into detail here. If you don't, here's the Official Website, and you can order the book below.

From all reports, after the screening on the opening night of the festival, The Help received a rousing approval with many in the audience on their feet as they applauded. When asked about the difference between the reception in Hollywood and the reception at Deauville, actress Viola Davis said that it was different from the premiere in Los Angeles. She said people in Hollywood clapped, but not with as much enthusiasm or joy. She described the reception in Deauville as enormous with uninhibited joy.

To read about the films being screened and, who is attending, click the title of this post.
The 36th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, opens this week (8-18 September), one of my favorites for the reasons mentioned above, and because when I am trying to pick a Best Feature Motion Picture Oscar winner, I pay close attention to the TIFF. In 2008, I was touting Slumdog Millionaire when most of the American movie goers had never heard of it. It won in Toronto, and went on to win the Oscar for Best Feature Motion Picture of 2009.

The cast members of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, headed by Brad Pitt, are unpacking their bags, and not in Toronto. There was some talk that the movie would open Toronto. However, the information was false.

The Tree of Life is not even screening at Toronto. Davis Guggenheim's, From the Sky Down, will have it's USA World Premiere on opening Night. Twenty years after the release of U2’s Achtung Baby (1991), Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman, An Inconvenient Truth, It Might Get Loud) charts this groundbreaking album with new interviews, stories and music.
More on Toronto later, but here is the list of films from indieWire:
Close Proves Her Acting Chops
Some reviews are in from Telluride. One being the movie Albert Nobbs, a tale of a woman in the 19th Century passing herself off as a man in late Victorian–era Dublin, is praised for actress Glenn Close's performance. She co-wrote the script, helped produce it, and worked on the getting it made for about 20 years. Actress Janet McTeer also received some good press, but director Rodrigo Garcia came in for a couple of swipes, because the film reveals a plot part too early in the movie, and for some other things, but I don't want to be a spoiler.

George Cukor for his consistent skill in eliciting superb performances from females.  Cukor was one of Katherine Hepburn's favorite directors. One of my favorite films of Cukor's is the made-for-TV movie, The Corn is Green, starring Hepburn.

Nobbs on 19th century short story by Irish writer George Moore called The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs. It became a stage play, and Close starred in a 1982 New York production.  McCarthy writes that the film ". . . cries out for a deeper exploration of this pinched, unrealized human being" who disguised herself as a man in order to support herself. Other critics have noted different flaws in the movie but, as before, I don't want to be a spoiler.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

It Isn't Fall Yet, But Festivals Don't Know It

I tried to stretch my hiatus out a little longer, but when the Venice International Film Festival started Wednesday, I knew it was time to start paying attention to what was happening on the movie scene. Thus, a break from the cookout today for this post.

Venice IFF's Golden Lion Award

Two major Film Festivals are underway this weekend. For starters, the granddaddy of the film festivals, the 68th Venice International Film Festival - La Biennale di Venezia - opened Wednesday, 31 August, with the well-received world premiere screening of The Ides of March, the highly anticipated new film written, directed, and starring George Clooney, in the Palazzo del Cinema, following the opening ceremony.  Co-starring with Clooney are:  Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei.

The Ides of March is the only U.S. film screening in competition. However, David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, Germany/Canada, is worth noting. It stars
Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud, Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung, and Keira Knightley as a troubled young woman seeking treatment. There are no films of note from the USA screening out of competition.
The complete list of films in competition Here.


George Clooney
The other festival is the 38th Telluride Film Festival (2-5 September), to which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded a $50,000 grant to underwrite this year's  Festival’s Guest Director program, featuring musician Caetano Veloso, who is described as ". . . a musician who loves movies." For more on the Academy's grant to Telluride, click the title of this post.

George Clooney’s The Ides Of March may have been well-received in Venice, but it did not make the Telluride roster.  None-the-less, Clooney headed from Venice to the Colorado San Juan mountain festival to support the other movie in which he stars this year, The Descendants. It is the new film from director Alexander Payne, his first since his Oscar-winner Sideways (2007). Telluride will host tributes for Clooney, and actress Tilda Swinton, who won a best supporting actress Oscar in 2008 as Clooney's co-star in Michael Clayton.

Besides Venice, Telluride is also a stop in the film festival circuit between Cannes and New York. There's The Artist, a black and white silent film directed by Michel Hazanavicius, and Martin Scorsese’s new documentary about the late member of The Beatles - George Harrison: Living in the Material World, plus the Irish drama Albert Nobbs, co-written by Glenn Close, which has the actress playing a shy butler who is hiding the fact that he/she is a woman.

At Telluride, there are the "to be announced" slots, which keep festival goers guessing. In the past, some films shown in these TBA slots, including last year's The King's Speech, received Oscars. Therefore, there is big buzz of speculation about this year's TBA films. One that has been revealed is Butter, a comedy starring Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde and Hugh Jackman. Telluride Festival.

Coming up, the San Sebastian Festival in Spain (16-24 September), has set it's jury members.  Serving as part of the official selection jury will be Babel screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, director Álex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus) and actresses Bai Ling (The Crow), Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) and Frances McDormand (Fargo). American writer and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum will chair the New Directors competition at the festival. This from Nikki Fink's Deadline/Hollywood blog.